|About this Recording
8.557294 - Guitar Recital: Montesinos, Anabel - COSTE, N. / REGONDI, G. / TARREGA, F.
The birth and death dates of the composers represented in this recording span just over a century, during which the classic guitar emerged, reached its apogee, declined in popularity and finally began the renaissance that has now lasted for a further century.
Dionysio Aguado (1784-1849) was born in Madrid to a prosperous family, and this enabled him to give his whole time to studying the guitar and music with the Cistercian Father Basilio; he may also have studied with the Italian virtuoso Federico Moretti. In 1820 he published the first volume of his Escuela de la guitarra. After the death of his mother he moved to Paris where he gained the respect of Rossini, Bellini, Paganini and others, and met Fernando Sor (1778-1839) with whom he developed a close friendship and played in duo, testified by Sor’s Les deux amis, Op.41. Aguado used the nails of his right hand in playing but Sor did not, which does not appear to have disturbed their relationship. It was during his thirteen years in Paris that Aguado composed all his most important works, amongst which are the Trois Rondos brillants, in each of which the Rondo is preceded by a slow Introduction. In 1838 Aguado returned to Spain to teach and to compile his Nuevo método para guitarra, a treatise that remains an important book of reference even today.
Napoléon Coste (1806-1883) was born in the French village of Amondans, of which his father, a former military man, was the mayor. He began to play the guitar at the age of six, assisted by his mother, an amateur guitarist. A serious illness caused plans for him to follow in his father’s military footsteps to be abandoned. His devotion to the guitar continued, however, and after some notable successes in Valenciennes, where he lived in adolescence, he moved to Paris in 1830. There he met all the great guitarists of the time, studied with Fernando Sor and took lessons in theory and composition. In 1863 he injured his right arm, after which it never fully recovered and his performing career ended. He continued, however, to teach and compose, leaving an œuvre of over 53 brilliant works. Les soirées d’Auteuil is the last of his Sept morceaux épisodiques, consisting of a Sérénade and Scherzo, both in 3/8 time.
Julián Arcas (1832-1882), born in Almeria in Spain, was famous as a flamenco guitarist and composer of national dances and small pieces. The apogee of his fame was in the years 1860-70, during which he toured in central Europe and played in the Brighton Pavilion in 1862 before members of the British Royal family. In 1864 he toured with a pianist, Patanas, with whom he was living in Barcelona. He tired of ‘life on the road’ and retired (c.1870) to Almeria, where he established a business and collaborated with the Sevillian luthier Antonio Torres in developing some features of the guitar. Finally he moved to Antequera (Málaga) where he died after a short retirement. Arcas’ music has been largely neglected by recording artists. The simple Andante in this programme is a welcome addition to the very few pieces that have been recorded.
Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856) was born to a poor family in Pressburg, the Hungarian Pozsony, now the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, where his only notable memorial is an annual competition in his name. He was a child prodigy on the guitar and flute. Little is known of his early life but by 1840 he was ensconced in Vienna, enjoying royal patronage and touring widely in Europe. In 1842 he married Josephine Plantin, a pianist whose unwise administration of strychnine in 1846 aggravated an illness from which he recovered eighteen months later, thanks to her nursing. He died shortly before his magnum opus, the fifteen-volume Bardenklänge was awarded the First Prize in a competition in Brussels, organised by his great admirer Nicolai Petrovich Makaroff. The virtuosic Fantaisie hongroise begins with a slow Introduction, followed by a csárdás, a Hungarian national dance in two sections, slow and fast.
Giulio Regondi (1822-1872) may have been born in Geneva, though this is not certain. What is known is that his mother died in childbirth, and a man called Regondi, who claimed to be his father, taught him to play the guitar and destroyed his childhood by forcing him to perform in public from the age of five, dressed up like Little Lord Fauntleroy, making him practise for five hours a day, and stealing the money he earned. Regondi’s success in Paris in 1830 was such that Sor and Carcassi dedicated works to him. In 1831 he came to London with his ‘father’, who soon absconded with Giulio’s earnings; only the support of a wealthy patroness saved the boy from starvation. He remained in London for the rest of his life. Regondi was a formidable virtuoso and the composer of guitar music that combines extreme technical difficulty with the charm of salon music at its best. The opus numbers of his œuvre indicate that many of his works remain to be rediscovered.
It was the work of Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909), born in the Spanish town of Villareal, which, at a time when the popularity of the guitar had reached its nadir, triggered the instrument’s renaissance in the twentieth century. His importance was fourfold: in laying the basis of modern playing technique, as a teacher, as the composer of numerous works, and in establishing the art of adapting music originally written for other musical media to the guitar. His performing career was limited in scope, free from any dream of conquering the world. It was on the basis of Tárrega’s work that Andrés Segovia developed his own technique and other skills which, together with his own ambition, enabled him to carry the guitar to all parts of the globe, making the ‘renaissance’ a reality. Tárrega’s compositions were tailored to the tastes of the salon but display both refined musicality and aptitude to the guitar. His expressed intention of writing a book in which the technical details of his ‘school’ would be clearly stated never came to fruition. Had it done so it would almost certainly have included the sixteen Preludes, of which three are here included. Antonio Gallego has rightly described them as “Studies of expression”, works in which expressivity take precedence over technical level.
Miguel Llobet (1878-1938), a student of Tárrega, was born and died in Barcelona. His début recital was in Málaga in 1900 but it was after his first performance in Paris in 1905 that his career took wings that carried him all over Europe and the Americas. He may have been the first guitarist to record using a microphone in 1926, one year before Segovia made his first recordings. His music ranges from charming and relatively simple settings of Catalan folk-songs to virtuosic works such as those in this recording. It is strange that Llobet should have believed the theme of the variations to have been composed by Fernando Sor; it is in fact the traditional ground of the Folias, on which Sor also wrote variations.
John W. Duarte
Anabel Montesinos was born in Reus, Tarragona, in 1984. She started her musical education in the Escuela Municipal de L’Hospitalet de L’Infant in Tarragona at the age of six and was awarded a distinction for her elementary grade in 1996. From the age of ten she studied with Vania del Monaco, and in 1997 she began her intermediate level in the Conservatorio Superior de Música of Tarragona, completing these in 2001. She is currently studying in the Conservatorio Superior de Música Oscar Espla in Alicante, in the class of Ignacio Rodes. Her first solo concert took place in Mallorca when she was just twelve years old. She also took master-classes with Manuel Barrueco and David Russell. She has given recitals in Spain, Poland and Italy and has participated as a guest in numerous important festivals, including the Fourth International Meeting of Classical Music in Jaén, the Ninth Gitarowy Festival in Lublin, as guest soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Lublin, and the Thirteenth Guitar Festival in Barcelona. She has won various prizes, among them third prize in the 1999 Sixth International Guitar Contest Maria Luisa Anido in Italy, and first prizes in the Ninth Castellón Francisco Tárrega Competition, and in 2000 in the Krynica International Contest in Poland, the Fourth Sevilla America Martinez National Contest, the First Almeria Julian Arcas International Contest, and in the Fourth International Guitar Festival, category Moyen, in France. In 2001 she won first prizes in the Jaén First International Competition El Condado, the Lérida Second Instrumental Competition Sant Anastasi, and in 2002 the first prize, audience prize and special prize for the best performance of works by Francisco Tárrega at the 36th Francisco Tárrega International Guitar Competition at Benicásim. Her achievements have won enthusiastic acclaim from critics and audiences.
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